1 August 2002
Dr Pieter Botha (Chairman, South Africa), Dr Pauline Lindeque (Namibia), Ms Nina Marshall (Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund), Dr Malan Lindeque (CITES Secretariat), Mr Tom de Meulenaer (CITES Secretariat), Mr Nigel Hunter (MIKE Director).
Apologies: Dr Richard Ruggiero (United States of America), Mr Frank Jacobs (European Commission), Dr Jim Armstrong (CITES Secretariat).
As with the previous teleconference, attendance was low. As before, the Chairman suggested that the meeting should go ahead, as the minutes would serve as a useful progress report to the other members.
The agenda sent out by the Secretariat was agreed with no amendments.
Minutes of the previous teleconference
The minutes of the meeting held on 28 March 2002 were approved as an accurate record.
The Director reported that he had been successful in establishing contact with the Southeast Asia member, but was still unable to get any response from the southern Asia member. Given that the appointment of TAG members was at the discretion of the MIKE Sub-Group, the Director requested that he be allowed to look for other suitable candidates from the southern Asia sub-region and put these to the MIKE Sub-Group for consideration and appointment. This was agreed.
- Technical Advisory Group (TAG) membership
- MIKE/NGO open day (29 May 2002)
The Director felt that the meeting had been productive and a communiqué presenting the questions, answers and comments would be available on the CITES website under "Recent events" in the MIKE section.
Progress report (technical)
The Director provided a progress report as of July 2002 regarding the 11 activities contained in the work plan.
- Establishment of the MIKE Central Coordinating Unit (CCU)
Further to the previous minutes, the Director confirmed that the Financial Manager was appointed with effect from 6 May and that he was already proving very effective.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) had recently agreed to recommend a grant that would strengthen the data analysis development and the data management training capacity of the CCU. The recruitment of the Data Management Officer would therefore now be actively pursued.
The country programmes are now very nearly finalised and monitoring activities are underway in all sub-regions. This process was helped during the last quarter by having the Central African training workshop and holding a southern African Steering Committee meeting to consolidate and update MIKE activities there with the more recent progress elsewhere. For West Africa, it was reported that Nigeria had not been involved, since no communication seemed to get through by any means. However a recent visit by the Support Officers suggests Nigeria will now become fully engaged. Senegal was delayed by a time lag in appointing the Site Officer to replace the one transferred and visits to Liberia by the Support Officers had twice been postponed due to security issues. The visit was now scheduled for September.
- Setting up in range States
This activity had been achieved and no longer needed reporting on.
- Establishment of sub-regional Support Officers
This activity is very nearly completed, with the Sub-regional Support Officers (SSO) now concluding the work on bringing the site teams into the process, through their site visits. Sierra Leone had not been visited yet by the Support Officers owing to the work involved in the three other countries in West Africa (as indicated under paragraph 2 above).
- Establishment of MIKE in range States
The process of harmonizing existing forms with MIKE needs is now virtually completed. In East Africa, it is only Tanzania where this still needs some action, but this is in the SSO’s work plan to resolve in the next month.
The report provided in the last quarter remains valid, i.e. there is a strong possibility that an EC project specifically supporting research and development on the Cybertracker, will assist this particular activity but project details and European Commission (EC) confirmation are awaited, especially as to when this support may become available. However it has since become apparent that Cybertracker is not the only one on the market. It is therefore still intended to have a small workshop to consider the merits of Cybertracker and the alternatives during the latter half of 2002.
Work on the data analysis system continues and discussion of progress was undertaken at the May TAG meeting and reflected in the TAG minutes. Some concern was expressed that the support team was not progressing to actually suggesting solutions to the issues involved. A target has been agreed, whereby the Director needs to demonstrate at the MIKE regional meeting in September that a data analytical system is underway, even if it then needs further attributes added on after that deadline.
As of now, the basic structure, tables and relationships of the site-level database have been developed in harmony with the data collection forms and planned analysis. A first draft of the user menu and illustration of data entry forms has been developed. Data entry forms that mimic field forms are now being designed and should be ready by the end of August. The appropriate queries to generate the monthly and annual reports and the reports themselves are under development. Database outputs will include tabular summaries of protection effort and results of patrolling and an illustration of a ‘catch/effort’ analysis that provides indicators of illegal activities both in space and time.
The development of the database receives user-feedback from the Namibian MIKE team in its initial stages of development. It will be further evaluated by users from the other regions during the first year of its use, starting this year. This feedback will help improve the design and interaction with the user.
- Establishment of protocols and analysis systems
As reported on previously, careful consideration of the training to be provided has led to a process whereby the priority has been to get the LEM underway, followed fairly soon by the data management training. The population survey training will then take place as the final stage over a longer time-frame, but this will not delay the population survey programme, which will initially rely on greater external support.
The first round of sub-regional LEM training has been completed. Further training is being provided by the SSOs site visits. This is now an ongoing activity and will continue as a facilitating and updating process. The pre-MIKE existing forms are now or are close to being adapted to take on board MIKE LEM needs.
Procurement of the GPSs is complete. What has become apparent is that the original plan of two per site now looks to be insufficient, because GPSs have become an every day tool. It would help to increase the ratio to five per site and this is being looked into to see what possibilities exist.
The procurement of the computers has also progressed. IBM were awarded the tender and 85 computer systems have been delivered to the MIKE consultant based in the United-States. They are being tested by him and will then be shipped to Africa. The original target of trying to deliver the computers to each site by end of June has slipped owing to delays from the suppliers in responding adequately to the tender. The new target is to have the computers delivered to the sites in August.
USFWS have kindly agreed to recommend providing further support to the data management development and training under their African Elephant Conservation Fund
Discussions with the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) regarding ArcView [the Geographic Information System (GIS) software] were successful and there is an agreement in place whereby ESRI will provide ArcView 8.1 to all sites at approximately 10 per cent of the commercial price. Owing to the 11 September tragedy, the United States now applies stricter export regulations, which affect goods such as GIS software. This is causing some delays in getting the software to the computers as, again, it makes sense to have the GIS installed before the computers leave the United States.
- Capacity building
The availability of digitized maps has now been tabulated for each site. There is better coverage than anticipated.
A clear way forward for determining the site boundaries for the Central African forest areas has been detailed in the proposal submitted to USFWS and WWF International for further funding support.
Law Enforcement Monitoring (LEM) activities are now ongoing at all sites and data is beginning to be provided in all Sub-regions. As of July 2002, then some 75 per cent of the sites are producing or have started to produce data. By September this percentage could have risen to around 90 per cent. The Director advised that these figures should not be interpreted as meaning that the data have reached an acceptable quality level as yet.
For the forest population survey programme, funds have been recommended from USFWS and are being actively considered by WWF International to cover seven Forest sites in Central Africa during 2003. The three pilot sites have population surveys from 2001. In West Africa, all five forest sites will have population estimates by 2003, subject to a request to the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) for moving funds from the equipment budget line being approved.
Progress in regard to this activity is linked to the reports provided under activities 5 and 6. It has taken longer than anticipated to procure the computers, but by the end of the next quarter, it should be possible for each site to start inputting data. Discussions at the recent TAG meeting revealed the complexity of having a practical data analytical system relevant to all 55 sites. Considerable emphasis is now being put on getting an analytical system positioned in the computers by the end of the coming quarter that allows site officers to input data and produce some straightforward analysis. Further analysis requirements can then be built in, as they become available.
The information provided for CoP12 will therefore be related to confirming the progress achieved in collecting data and analysing them. There will not be any information revealing trends or pattern relationships, simply because the time frame will be too short for such information to be available in relation to the great majority of the 29 range States.
Further to the last quarter progress report, it has now been agreed to go ahead with a full MIKE regional meeting and this is scheduled for 10-11 September 2002 in Nairobi.
- Implementation monitoring
This is reported on under the financial progress report (see below).
- Matching funds
- Formal reporting
This activity is ongoing.
Progress report (financial)
The Director provided a progress report, as of July 2002, in regard to EC matching funds, Asia and long-term funding.
The Director reported that further to the progress provided in the last quarter, it could now be confirmed that as of the end of June, the EC matching-fund requirement had been exceeded by a reasonable margin, thanks to further contributions from the USFWS African Elephant Conservation Fund (AfECF), Botswana and from ESRI.
- EC matching funds
The Director reported that in response to the visits undertaken to the United States by the Deputy Secretary-General and himself, the USFWS Asian Elephant Conservation Fund was recommending a grant to start the implementation of MIKE in Southeast Asia. A key requirement of USFWS however was the need to ensure that the range States were committed to the programme and this will be the major activity over the next few months. In addition, following a request from MIKE, CEPF was considering providing funds to assist possible sites in the Sumatra forest ecosystem. Lastly the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) had agreed to collaborate with the MIKE programme and facilitate the implementation in Southeast Asia.
- Long-term funding
Further to the progress provided in the previous minutes, the Director reported that subsequent follow up had confirmed EC’s strong support to MIKE and an indication that they were exploring which might be the most appropriate channel for further funding of a main implementation programme. The latest feedback is that they have made progress and the Director is requested to get in touch with the EC in mid August.
The Director confirmed that the MIKE regional meeting scheduled for 10-11 September was well advanced in terms of planning and organization. Invitations had gone out to all MIKE African range States and to 11 Asian range States. A provisional agenda has also been sent out. The draft progress report on MIKE for CoP12 was also nearing completion.
During the course of the meeting, as the telephone link to Kenya started to disrupt the Directors’ reporting, the Chairman requested that the Director formulate his report in the form of the minutes, send these out to all Sub-Group members and invite their questions, should they have any. This would at least overcome the immediate telephone problem as well as the low numbers participating in the teleconference.
This then led to some discussion of what might be the future medium for MIKE Sub-Group conferences, given that the last two had such low attendance. It was agreed that the teleconference medium was the most desirable option, because it allowed the members to hear what questions were being asked and to participate in any discussion. Given this preference, the Secretariat offered to contact each member in order to try and discover what difficulties were being encountered in participating in teleconferences.
An alternative option was for the Director to prepare a written report, using the minutes template as a model, based on his quarterly reports submitted to the Secretariat. Members of the Sub-Group should then be invited to submit their questions and comments. However it would be important to arrange an email discussion group, so that members could see the questions and responses and make their own contributions. With this option, it was also agreed that it was very important to have a strict time limit, in order to allow the Director to get on with overseeing MIKE implementation.
It was concluded that the Chairman, the Secretariat and the Director should liaise and come up with some workable solution to this issue.
The Chairman concluded the meeting by thanking participants for their useful and helpful contributions and thanked the Director and his staff for their efforts in getting MIKE up and running.